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Lebanese ambassador to Pakistan was not on doomed helicopter

Crash killed six people, including the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines

Published: Updated:

A helicopter that crashed in the north of Pakistan that killed six people on Friday, including the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines, did not have Lebanon's ambassador to Pakistan on board.

An official at the Lebanese embassy in Islamabad said ambassador to Pakistan Mona al-Tannir was "safe and sound" and not on board the crashed helicopter in Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan territory, according to the Daily Star Lebanon.

Tannir had been traveling to the region as a part of a delegation of foreign envoys to inspect projects on a three-day trip where they were set to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, according to the Pakistani army.

Leif H. Larsen, the Norwegian envoy, and Domingo D. Lucenario Jr of the Philippines were killed along with the wives of the Malaysian and Indonesian ambassadors, the helicopter's two pilots and another crew member, according to tweets from an official army account. The Norway and Philippines foreign offices confirmed the deaths of their diplomats.

The embassy confirmed that Tannir was on a separate helicopter from the one that crashed.

According to a list of passengers obtained by Agence France-Presse, the ambassadors of Lebanon, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Romania, Norway, South Africa, the Philippines and Poland were scheduled for the visit.

The Pakistan Taliban later claimed responsibility for the downing of the helicopter, saying Prime Minister Sharif was their target.

"The Taliban's claim is bogus as there were full security arrangements in place. It was just a technical failure," foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry told a press conference

The prime minister "expressed deep grief and sorrow" and announced a day of mourning, according to his office.

Polish ambassador Andrzej Ananiczolish and Dutch ambassador Marcel de Vink were also injured in the crash, the army said. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Vink's injury.

"The Polish ambassador suffered spinal injuries while the Dutch envoy sustained burns to the leg and face," Chaudhry said. The Indonesian ambassador suffered 75 percent burns and is in a critical condition, he added, while the Malaysian ambassador suffered injuries to his shoulder and face.

It was Pakistan's worst air crash since 2012 when a Boeing 737 passenger plane went down in Islamabad, killing 130 people.

In 1988, a plane crash killed Pakistan's then military-ruler General Zia-ul-Haq as well as the US ambassador at the time, Arnold Raphel.